The Stage Scholarships 2017: Barbara Speake Stage School

2016 winners Jeremiah Waysome, Layla Heath and Ruby Donovan. Photo: Alex Brenner

Jeremiah Waysome, from Canning Town in London, already boasts stage credits as Young Simba in The Lion King tour and as Young Lola in the West End production of Kinky Boots.

“I had always wanted to go to drama school,” says the 10-year-old. “It has made a massive difference attending Barbara Speake. I feel so honoured and happy. I am so delighted to have joined this new school – it’s the best thing in my life.”

He was also the recipient of one of seven part-scholarships awarded last year by Barbara Speake Stage School in association with The Stage, totalling more than £250,000.

This wasn’t the end of the school’s generosity in 2016 – it also awarded Layla Heath, 11, from Hounslow in London, a full scholarship (worth £46,000) to cover her school fees up to Year 11.

Back for its third year in The Stage Scholarships Scheme, Barbara Speake Stage School is offering one full scholarship and six part-scholarships to children as young as seven.

School manager Michelle Welch explains that the school is unusual in that it caters for children in the early years and lower juniors: “If we see potential in a child of that age, they could certainly be awarded a scholarship. From the day the school opened, part of its ethos has been never to deny a young person’s right to have an education and training just because they don’t have funding.”

Based in Acton, west London, the school is celebrating its 72nd year, during which time proprietor Barbara Speake has remained at the helm. She opened the doors when she was 16 and is still going strong at 88. Highly respected in the industry, the school opened in 1945, becoming a full-time establishment 18 years later. Since then, it has provided training to students including Brian Conley, Naomi Campbell, Phil Collins, Kwame Kwei-Armah, chart topper Imani and a host of BAFTA and Oscar-winners.

Students who follow in their footsteps perform at the school’s fully equipped 200-seat theatre, and take advantage of the in-house theatrical agency, which is busy with requests to audition pupils for professional work in television, film and theatre. Its performers are currently on tour in Billy Elliot, in the West End in Kinky Boots and filming daily at Shepperton Studios.

Welch says the teachers consider the needs of each child as important as their performance schedules. “We have a family atmosphere and do all we can to nurture confident and happy children. We don’t just know pupils individually, we encourage them to be individuals too.”

Layla Heath was left speechless when she discovered she had won the 2016 full scholarship for Barbara Speake Stage School:

“My big sister Maddy broke the news. I still feel wobbly with excitement just thinking about it. I am so happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to do what I love. It means so much that they liked me and they want me to succeed in this world. I am so thankful – it’s hard to come up with words to describe how I feel.”

Course: Performing arts
Educational level: School age
Number of scholarships offered: Seven in total (one full scholarship and six part-scholarships)
Value of scholarship: Full scholarship – £46,000. Part-scholarships depend on the age of the winners and how long they will attend the school (last year’s part-scholarships totalled more than £250,000)
What costs are covered? Fees up to GCSEs
Where is the school? Acton, London
Audition date: April 23
How do I apply? Closing date for entries is March 31. Applicants should contact the school by email (scholarships@barbaraspeake.com) or by telephone: 020 8743 1306